October 17, 2012

The Exoplanet Next Door

Earth-sized world discovered in nearby α Centauri star system.

It is a world so close that E.T. could phone home in just four years. Astronomers have discovered the lowest-mass planet yet orbiting a Sun-like star.

It orbits α Centauri B, a member of the stellar system that is our Solar System’s nearest neighbour. Although nearly identical to Earth in mass, the planet is much closer to its star than Mercury is to the Sun, meaning that it is a scorched and barren rock.

Nevertheless, its astronomical proximity to Earth will undoubtedly stir dreams of interstellar exploration, particularly as astronomers search α Centauri for more hospitable worlds.

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by: Nature


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